Why You Shouldn't Ignore Shortness of Breath

Why You Shouldn't Ignore Shortness of Breath

To provide effective treatment for any illness, your physician must first identify the underlying cause of your symptoms. In the case of shortness of breath, this could range from a viral illness such as the common cold to worsening heart disease or a life-threatening asthma attack.

Our team at MyDoc Urgent Care, with four locations in New York to serve your immediate care needs, discusses the importance of understanding what’s causing your shortness of breath and how we can help.

What is shortness of breath?

Shortness of breath (dyspnea) is a frightening sensation that’s often described as air hunger or the feeling that you can’t catch your breath. Dyspnea may develop suddenly (acutely) and last just a few minutes or become chronic (long-lasting). 

Depending on the underlying cause, you may notice frequent bouts of shortness of breath or episodes that last longer and become more debilitating over time.

What causes shortness of breath?

Hundreds of medical conditions include shortness of breath as a common symptom, including:

Treatment for shortness of breath includes medication or therapies that address or control the underlying condition, such as inhalers to manage asthma or iron supplements to reverse anemia.

Is shortness of breath a medical emergency?

We generally consider shortness of breath a medical emergency when it is accompanied by:

These symptoms may signal a heart attack or worsening infection that requires immediate care.  

How can you tell what’s causing my shortness of breath?

Your MyDoc Urgent Care evaluation includes a detailed review of all the symptoms you’re experiencing. Along with a physical exam, this can help your provider narrow the possible cause of your dyspnea.

For instance, swelling in your ankles and feet, fatigue, and shortness of breath with even minimal activity may indicate a heart problem. Shortness of breath that occurs when you’re nervous but resolves when you’re able to relax may be related to anxiety.

Notably, however, asthma and other conditions can cause anxiety-like symptoms such as increased heart rate and a general feeling of unease as your body and brain respond to declining oxygen levels.

Thus, your MyDoc Urgent Care evaluation also includes diagnostic studies such as pulse oximetry. This quick and completely painless test measures oxygen levels in your blood.

Pulse oximetry readings below 92% typically indicate the need for further diagnostic workup that may include various blood tests, a chest X-ray, pulmonary function tests, etc.

Depending on the results of your evaluation, your provider may prescribe treatment to relieve your shortness of breath and/or refer you to a specialist for further management.

Walk-ins are always welcome at MyDoc Urgent Care, and we’re open seven days a week for your convenience. You can also give us a call to schedule a same-day doctor visit

You Might Also Enjoy...

When Should You Seek Help for a Fever?

Why worry about a fever? It just means your body is fighting off infection, right? So, it’s actually a good thing. That’s usually true. There are times, however, when a fever needs urgent care. Find out when those times are.

This Is Why You Shouldn't Ignore Headaches

Most headaches are a nuisance that resolves quickly with the help of an over-the-counter pain reliever. There are good reasons not to ignore your aching head, however. Read what our healthcare professionals want you to know about headaches.

When is Your Headache a Cause for Concern?

Headaches are so common that most people should expect to experience one, or several, during their lifetime. But have you ever wondered when it’s time to see the doctor for your head pain? Here’s what you need to know.

How are STDs Treated?

Are you worried about exposure to STDs and what that might mean for your health? Learn the facts about who is at risk, when to consider testing, and the treatments available for sexually transmitted infections.